We all lead busy lives, so it can be challenging to devise a consistent parenting (visitation) schedule that works for you, your former partner, and your children. With older children, school and extracurricular activities can present challenges for parents with shared parenting (custody) arrangements. However, creating a parenting time schedule for infants poses unique difficulties for parents, especially fathers.
The legal team with the Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre has a few tips to help both parents build a meaningful relationship with their newborn baby, even if their relationship with each other has come to an end.
Why an Infant Parenting Time (Visitation)Schedule Is So Important
Designing an effective schedule for an infant may be challenging for new parents. It’s a delicate balancing act with numerous factors at odds. For example, giving both parents time to bond with their infant is essential to the child’s long-term development. This time together also allows both parents to experience the many milestones a baby experiences in their first year of life. However, consistency and routine are also vital to the healthy development of an infant. Developing a workable schedule that does not interrupt a baby’s sleep and feeding routine can present difficulties. Routine disruption and visitation can be challenging for babies who breastfeed.
How do you navigate these challenges and arrive at a parenting time schedule that meets your needs as a parent and developing infant? A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. It’s time to consider your child’s specific needs and family dynamic.
How to Create a Parenting Schedule for Infants
Research supports a simple fact: children thrive when they have relationships with both parents, regardless of the amiability of the parents’ relationship with each other. Here are some things to keep in mind as you work with your co-parent to develop a parenting schedule for your infant:
- Babies need consistency – Try to work out a schedule that addresses your baby’s need for routine and consistency. Although working around feeding and sleeping schedules may be challenging, infants aren’t little forever. Aim for a predictable routine that doesn’t disrupt your infant’s regular schedule. However, realize that although consistency is essential, sometimes plans change. Be prepared to go with the flow to provide your child with dual-parental involvement when needed.
- Consider age and development stage – Babies change in the blink of an eye. Understanding your baby’s stage of development can help you and your co-parent adjust visitation and parenting plans according to your child’s current needs.
- Communication is vital – Your baby entirely depends on you and your co-parent. Effective communication helps keep both parents on the same page, ensuring all your child’s basic needs are met.
- Consider an alternating schedule – A strong equal-parenting plan should give both parents frequent contact with their child. A baby should not be away from either parent for more than a few days. Many parents find that a 2-2-3 or alternating day schedule works best. 2-2-3 schedule means the infant spends two days with the first parent, two days with the second parent, then three days with the first parent again. Typically, the arrangement switches the following week. Some parents prefer simply alternating every two to three days.
A Valuable Resource
The Association of Family & Conciliation Courts Ontario branch has published a guide to devising a Parenting Plan, and they give great templates as well. We highly recommend that you check out the AFCC-O resource online.
Talk to an Ontario Family Law Lawyer
As a parent, you are not expected to have all the answers. Guess what? It’s okay if you don’t know everything. That is what the experienced legal team at the Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre is here to help you with. We have long been advocates of equal parenting time, and we want to help you arrive at an infant parenting schedule that works for your family and fosters a healthy relationship between you and your child.